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Personnel Files

The 5 rules for documenting HR decision-making


The best way to prevent lawsuits is to carefully document every employment decision. HR professionals and supervisors should be able to show exactly when a decision was made, who made it and what the basis for the decision was …

I-9 enforcement focuses on criminal arrests, smaller firms

In the past few years, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has focused its enforcement efforts mainly at large-scale immigration raids at big companies. Now that ICE has more trained officers and better coordination with other federal and state agencies, it’s targeting more small businesses, too …

Hold onto those notes! Even accidental destruction can mean trouble

You know it’s crucial to document all disciplinary actions. No doubt, you’ve told managers and supervisors to keep all notes, memos and other paperwork. Those records could be invaluable later if you ever need to show that all your disciplinary decisions were based on good business judgment, performance and other legitimate and relevant reasons …

Retaining Old Org Charts: Why … and for How Long?


Memories fade and employees come and go. That’s why it’s crucial for HR to keep certain records for future reference. Among these records are organizational charts showing who had supervisory and other authority over other employees. Why? Lawsuits over lost promotions or firings can take years before they actually go to trial …

Simplify Employee Self-Reviews: A 3-Question Template


An important—but often overlooked—step in performance appraisals is to ask employees to grade themselves. But don’t just give them the same appraisal form used by supervisors. Instead, use a separate form that allows them to recap their achievements, identify shortcomings and initiate discussions regarding their development.  A good self-evaluation form asks these three core questions … 

How far can MDCR investigation go?

Q. Our company is responding to a charge filed with the Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR). The allegation relates to management’s treatment of one employee. However, during the investigation, the MDCR  asked us to produce various unrelated records—for example, promotion records. The charging party has made no claim that he was discriminated against with respect to any promotion. He has never even sought a promotion. How should we respond to this request? …

Make suggested ADA accommodation offer in writing

Under the ADA, disabled employees are entitled to reasonable accommodations that enable them to perform the essential functions of their jobs. And employers are required to engage in what the law calls “an interactive process” to determine what accommodations may be possible. But “interactive” doesn’t imply you should approach the process casually …

Must you provide employees with printed copies of annual reviews?

Q. We have a supervisor who does annual review meetings with his employees, but doesn’t give them a printed copy. He told our HR department that he keeps the reviews at home and doesn’t want to give us copies. Must we retain copies in our official employee file? — A.R., Minnesota …

How long must we retain employee records?

Q. How long should a company keep its basic employment records once an employee has been terminated? …

Can emergency contact info be mandatory?

Q. We’re cleaning up our personnel files and updating emergency contact information. Some employees don’t want to provide their contact information. Is it legal for us to require them to give it to us? …